Bushmen boycott census

Bushman man Molathwe Mokalake in the resettlement camp of New Xade, Botswana.
Bushman man Molathwe Mokalake in the resettlement camp of New Xade, Botswana.
© Dominick Tyler

Bushmen in Botswana have announced plans to boycott the national census in protest against the government’s refusal to provide them with a polling station during the last elections.

More than 400 Bushman were denied the right to vote in 2009, with five communities living inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve omitted from the electoral register altogether.

A Bushman spokesperson said, ‘This showed that the government does not recognize us as a people. So why count us? They should count their own people and leave us alone.

‘Since they don’t want to provide services in the CKGR including water and hospitals, they should just stay away and not impose services which will not benefit us in any way.’

The Bushmen’s decision is a direct result of a long history of subjugation and repression by the state.

In January this year, Bushmen celebrated a High Court victory recognizing the right to sink water boreholes on their ancestral land. The government had denied the Bushmen this fundamental right since forcibly evicting them in 2002.